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SuperCupNI: Bailie hails decade's best side as County Down reach decider for the first time

 

By Keith Bailie

County Down reached the final of the SuperCup NI for the first time in their history thanks to an impressive win over Mexicans Club America.

The county team will now play Italian side Serie B Select in tonight's Premier Section final at the Ballymena Showgrounds.

Down manager John Bailie said: "We drew with Newcastle on Monday and were 2-0 down at half-time on Tuesday to Ichifuna. No one at half-time on Tuesday would have guessed that we would be in the final on Friday.

"But I've always had faith in these kids. It's the best group I've had with County Down in 10 years of coming here. They've embraced the tournament and what we're trying to do.

"What they've put in over these last four games has been phenomenal. We've had six or seven weeks working together and the kids have responded.

"We will not treat the final any differently than the other games. We tell the boys to go and express themselves and not fear defeat. When you are scared to lose, that's when you're in difficulties.

"They need to go out and enjoy the final, as it's a special occasion.

"I'm sure Serie B will move the ball well and they will be a slick passing side, but we're a good team too. Dave Watson of Newcastle was very complimentary.

"To score 10 goals in four games against tough opposition demonstrates our quality."

Down took a hard-earned lead in the 23rd minute after Linfield Rangers star Ethan Wynne was fouled inside the area. He stepped up to the mark and converted the penalty.

Bailie's boys scored again late in the second half. Linfield's Ruari O'Hare made it 2-0, sparking wild celebrations at the Riada.

At Scroggy Road in Limavady, Italian side Serie B Select defeated Brazilians GO Audax 2-1.

Iannone Carmine and Magri Giulio scored for Serie B, while Chady Sousa De Santana scored for the Brazilians. Both GO Audax's Marcio Gleyson Leite De Silva and Serie B's Fabio Rossi were red carded.

The final is at the Ballymena Showgrounds tonight, with kick-off at 7pm. It will be streamed live on the BBC website.

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